The Florida Marlins and Carlos Delgado began serious negotiations yesterday on a contract offer that is $9 million more than what the Orioles have offered, making it appear even more unlikely the free agent first baseman will sign with Baltimore.
Delgado and agent David Sloane met with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, General Manager Larry Beinfest, Manager Jack McKeon, pitcher Al Leiter and several other members of the front office for almost six hours. Among the issues the two sides discussed was Florida's offer, according to one source, of three years and $34 million.
The Orioles seem to have lost out on another free-agent target as Carlos Delgado is negotiating with Florida.
(Nick Wass - AP)
Meantime, the Orioles have not spoken with Sloane in the past few days.
At the start of the free agency period, the Orioles appeared to be a leading contender for Delgado. Instead, they've quickly fallen off pace. Their initial and only offer, made prior to the start of the winter meetings in mid-December, has been widely reported to be three years, $30 million. But according to one source with knowledge of the situation, the Orioles' offer was actually three years, $25 million -- considerably less than what other teams have offered.
Orioles Executive Vice President Jim Beattie did not return a phone call and Sloane declined to comment on the particulars of the negotiations. Sloane said he hoped to speak to the Orioles within the next few days.
"I anticipate talking to [Beattie] if not [Sunday] then on Monday in order to try to move things along," Sloane said.
The Marlins have made an aggressive charge for Delgado in the last two weeks. With revenue problems and no new stadium deal, it appeared Florida would not be a serious suitor and certainly not one that would outbid the Orioles, who this offseason shed almost $17 million in the expired contracts of Marty Cordova, David Segui, Buddy Groom and Omar Daal.
"I really felt this was a tremendous long shot," Sloane said of Florida's bid for Delgado. "I know the history. I know the [financial] limitations this team is under. But they were very impressive today. It's certainly less of a long shot than what we perceived."
The New York Mets also are expected to make a push for Delgado. They are in the process of setting up a meeting with Sloane, perhaps as early as this week. The Texas Rangers also have interest in the first baseman, but they, like the Orioles, have not scheduled any meetings.